Tinnitus: The Invisible Condition with a Big Impact

Upset woman suffering from tinnitus laying in bed on her stomach with a pillow folded over the top of her head and ears.

In the movies, invisibility is a potent power. Whether it’s a mud-covered hero, a cloaked spaceship, or a stealthy ninja, invisibility allows characters in movies to be more effective and, frequently, accomplish the impossible.

Invisible health conditions, unfortunately, are equally as potent and much less fun. As an illustration, tinnitus is a very common hearing disorder. Regardless of how good you may look, there are no outward symptoms.

But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean tinnitus doesn’t have a significant affect on people who experience symptoms.

What is tinnitus?

So we recognize one thing: you can’t see tinnitus. Actually, tinnitus symptoms are auditory in nature, being a condition of the ears. You know that ringing in your ears you often hear after a rock concert or in a really silent room? That’s tinnitus. Tinnitus is so prevalent that about 25 million people experience it daily.

There are lots of other presentations of tinnitus besides the typical ringing. Noises like humming, whirring, crackling, clicking, and a number of others can manifest. The one thing that all of these noises have in common is that they’re not real sounds at all.

For most individuals, tinnitus will be a short-lived affair, it will come and go really quickly. But for somewhere between 2-5 million individuals, tinnitus is a persistent, sometimes debilitating condition. Think about it like this: hearing that ringing in your ears for a few minutes is annoying, but you can occupy yourself easily and move on. But what if you can’t get rid of that sound, ever? it’s not hard to see how that could begin to substantially affect your quality of life.

Tinnitus causes

Have you ever had a headache and tried to figure out the cause? Are you catching a cold, is it stress, or is it allergies? A number of things can trigger a headache and that’s the issue. The symptoms of tinnitus, though fairly common, also have a wide variety of causes.

The source of your tinnitus symptoms might, in some cases, be evident. But you might never really know in other cases. In general, however, tinnitus might be caused by the following:

  • Colds or allergies: Inflammation can happen when a lot of mucus accumulates in your ears. And tinnitus can be the consequence of this inflammation.
  • Meniere’s Disease: A good number of symptoms can be caused by this disorder of the inner ear. Amongst the first symptoms, however, are typically dizziness and tinnitus. Permanent hearing loss can happen over time.
  • Noise damage: Tinnitus symptoms can be triggered by exposure to overly loud noise over time. This is so prevalent that loud noises are one of the top causes of tinnitus! Wearing ear protection if extremely loud settings can’t be avoided is the best way to counter this kind of tinnitus.
  • Ear infections or other blockages: Similar to a cold or seasonal allergies, ear infections, and other blockages can cause swelling in the ear canal. This often causes ringing in your ears.
  • Certain medications: Tinnitus symptoms can be caused by some over-the-counter and prescription medications. Once you quit taking the medication, the ringing will typically go away.
  • Head or neck injuries: The head and neck are really sensitive systems. Ringing in your ears can be triggered by traumatic brain injuries including concussions.
  • Hearing loss: Hearing loss and tinnitus are often closely connected. In part, that’s because noise damage can also be a direct contributor to sensorineural hearing loss. Both of them have the same cause, in other words. But the ringing in your ears can seem louder with hearing loss because the external world is quieter.
  • High blood pressure: For some people, tinnitus could be caused by high blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure under control with the help of your primary care provider is the best way to handle this.

Treatment will obviously be simpler if you can determine the cause of your tinnitus symptoms. Clearing out a blockage, for example, will ease tinnitus symptoms if that’s what is causing them. Some people, however, might never identify what causes their tinnitus symptoms.

How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Tinnitus that only persists a few minutes isn’t something that you really need to have diagnosed. Having said that, it’s never a bad plan to check in with us to schedule a hearing screening.

But you should absolutely make an appointment with us if your tinnitus won’t subside or if it continues to come back. We will perform a hearing examination, discuss your symptoms and how they’re impacting your life, and maybe even talk about your medical history. All of that information will be utilized to diagnose your symptoms.

Treating tinnitus

There’s no cure for tinnitus. But it can be addressed and it can be managed.

If your tinnitus is due to a root condition, like an ear infection or a medication you’re using, then dealing with that underlying condition will result in an improvement in your symptoms. However, if you’re dealing with chronic tinnitus, there will be no root condition that can be easily addressed.

So controlling symptoms so they have a limited impact on your life is the objective if you have persistent tinnitus. There are a number of things that we can do to help. Here are a few of the most common:

  • A masking device: This is a hearing aid-like device that masks sounds instead of boosting them. These devices can be calibrated to your specific tinnitus symptoms, creating just enough sound to make that ringing or buzzing significantly less conspicuous.
  • A hearing aid: Sometimes, tinnitus becomes noticeable because your hearing loss is making outside sounds relatively quieter. In these cases, a hearing aid can help raise the volume on the rest of the world, and overpower the buzzing or ringing you might be hearing from your tinnitus.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: When it comes to cognitive behavioral therapy, we might end up referring you to a different provider. This approach uses therapy to help you learn to disregard the tinnitus sounds.

We will formulate a personalized and unique treatment plan for you and your tinnitus. Helping you get back to enjoying your life by managing your symptoms is the goal here.

If you’re struggling with tinnitus, what should you do?

Tinnitus may be invisible, but the last thing you should do is act like it isn’t there. Your symptoms will likely get worse if you do. It’s better to get ahead of your symptoms because you might be able to prevent them from growing worse. You should at least be certain to have your hearing protection handy whenever you’re going to be around loud sound.

If you have tinnitus that won’t go away (or keeps coming back) make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.